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Rohnert Park Ripples by Jud Snyder - February 2017

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Rohnert Park Ripples by Jud Snyder - February 2017

County battered by nature, but Nostalgia’s  alive and RP Kut-Ups have special plans

I can guess there are many Sonoma County residents wondering if the soil under their feet will ever dry out before the start of summer. All rivers, creeks, ponds and reservoirs were already at their peak levels when last mid-month’s torrents found no place to go except already saturated soil. The main rivers, Russian and Napa, overflowed as a consequence. Those of us pursuing newscasts on TV and radio saw or heard it all.

Sonoma County took an opposite beating this past summer when wildfires tore through woods and homes up near Clear Lake. Horrifying scenes dominated the visages and sounds. Why must we suffer after or during every drought the tragedies of flaming forests going up in smoke?

These twin catastrophes kind of makes you wonder why our usual benign Sonoma County (along with Marin and Napa) have been afflicted. Can we ever get used to one set of horrifying visages followed by another one? 

It’s difficult to write about Downtown Rohnert Park, Prop 64’s marijuana fiasco and SMART commute trains these days for they tend to diminish in the light of natural events like woodland fires and flooded lands everywhere.

Maybe a wee slice of nostalgia can provide some relief and the mention of trains reminds me of Sonoma County atmosphere about 45 years ago, say 1972, I’m visualizing a small locomotive towing a pair of freight cars carrying boxes of small, identical sticks about the size of pencils, hundreds of sticks in two freight cars slowly rolling through the hills of Hessel west of new city Rohnert Park that once was Rohnert’s Seed Farm. The slowly moving train returns a few weeks later and picks two freight cars of finished pencils to bring up to Santa Rosa. Yes, we had a pencil factory in Hessel in an ordinary warehouse behind the old Hessel School. 

Speaking of nostalgia, we have word about the Kut-Ups, a long time RP talent group and this year’s performance coming up in July this year. According latest word from Larry Broderick, pianist and music director, and director and choreographer Ariel Weymouth-Payne, this could be the final Kut-Ups show ever.

It’s quite obvious the bloom is off the rose for these talented all-senior women and men, for when Betty Ferra, a former vaudeville star, started the Kitchen Kut-Ups as they were called back then, it was table silverware they rattled, wooden spoons, keys and whatever they could find. For percussion they banged pots and pans of all sizes. And Larry Broderick was playing piano trying to bring a sense of musical reality to Ferra’s eager crew. It drew crowds with many buses from senior centers in California and Nevada parked at the Spreckels Theater parking lot. It’s only two or three buses now.

What Broderick would like to do now is to fly Betty Ferra from her daughter’s home in Alaska, where she’s living in retirement. She’d be featured guest at the perhaps, final Kut-Ups show, Ferra’s in her 90s now and who knows, maybe she could do a short turn on stage. That would be a genuine nostalgic kick.

All this planning is still not final by a long shot. But if we hear any developments we’ll keep you posted.